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Worker makes lucky escape after possible lightning strike at Cypress ski hill

Contractor was working on a chairlift switch box when there was a sudden power surge during Saturday's storm

A man who was working in an underground electrical vault near a chairlift at Cypress Mountain Resort during a storm Saturday evening (Nov. 6) is lucky to have escaped without injuries after a power surge hit the lift he was working on – possibly caused by a lightning strike.

The contract worker – a 33-year-old man from Logan Lake –  was working at the electrical switch box for the Lions Chair in the downhill ski area, replacing and testing electrical equipment, when the vault was struck by a power surge.

There was thunder in the area at the time, said Joffrey Koeman, spokesperson for Cypress Mountain Resort, and suspicions the chair may have been hit by lightning.

Environment Canada's weather office appeared to bear that out as a possibility. The Canadian Lightning Detection Network registered three "cloud to ground" lightning strikes on Mt. Strachan at around that time, 5:35 p.m. Saturday night, said meteorologist Armel Castellan.

BC Emergency Health Services received the call about the electrical surge and possible lightning strike at 5:41 p.m. Saturday evening. That was just after a sudden storm – including a freak water spout spotted near Vancouver International Airport – hit the Lower Mainland.

The man was transported to hospital by BC ambulance in stable condition.

Luckily, the man suffered only minor injuries and was later released, said Koeman.

Fortunately, the chairlift was not in use by the public at the time of the storm. Currently, staff at the ski resort are still readying the ski hill for this season's opening – usually around mid- to late-November.

In a statement, WorkSafeBC said the agency was informed of a workplace incident on Saturday evening. A prevention officer was assigned to work with the contract employer but WorkSafeBC is not currently investigating.




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